Monday, September 2, 2013

Zubin answer to prayers of Kashmiri Islamists and liberals

By Naseer A Ganai

IN early nineties when people would shout pro-Pakistan slogans in every anti-India protest, a youth in uptown locality of Srinagar one day called upon protesters to raise pro-America slogans. He argued had Kashmiris shouted pro-America slogans instead of pro-Pakistan shouts, America would have rushed to rescue Kashmir from India. The protesters took it as joke and laughed. They moved on shouting pro-Pakistan and pro-Azadi slogans.

A lot has changed in the past 20 years and still something’s remained unchanged. Pro-Azadi slogans replaced pro-Pakistan slogans. But Kashmiri liberals and educated class continue to have hope on America and the West. Like the youth of the uptown locality, who perhaps in 1993 persuaded protesters to shout pro-America slogans hoping that Americans jets would come to Kashmir after hearing pro-US chants, liberals hope that if they take pro-west stance and deny Indians chance of calling Kashmiris as “Islamists”, it would go well with the West.

It matters to Kashmiris how the west perceives them. What the western newspapers write about Kashmir also concerns every Kashmiri. And Kashmiris take it seriously because they hope that the west would one day realise that Kashmir resolution is its’ obligation.

But the facts on the ground speak otherwise. Germany is here not for any political intervention but with Zubin Mehta show.  Over the years Kashmiris have been seeking intervention of European Union to settle Kashmir issue. And Germany, an important member of the EU, has instead chosen to intervene in Kashmir with a Zubin Mehta concert. Kashmiris have submitted thousands of petitions to the UNMOG office here in Sonawar calling the UN to settle Kashmir. Hardliners, moderates, from three-year old child to eighty-year-olds have gone to the UNMOG office with memorandums, praying and pleading for the UN intervention.

It is strange whom the west calls 'Islamists' or hardliners have repeatedly reposed faith on the institutions of the West like UN which United States has used to invade countries and justify wars in the name of restoring democracies around the world. The UN is being trusted by the Islamists and moderates of Kashmir. They have unwavering faith on the UN, the US and the Britain. Just see how pro-freedom groups eagerly meet lower rung western diplomats at their houses presuming them as close aides of Obama and Ban Ki Moon and next day they issues statements with pictures that they met officials of this embassy and informed them about Kashmir issue and the need to resolve it.

But the west has always repaid with Zubin like shows. That is their commitment to India, Indian democracy and now Indian market. Kashmir doesn’t figure anywhere. Kashmir is always “Kashmir of mind.” A Kashmir of sufi saints, shrines, composite culture, beautiful breathtaking beauty and of hospitable people, who are eager to serve visiting guests in idyllic houseboats calling every guest irrespective of their colour as bibi ji and sahib with folded hands.

Even after taking on Zubin Mehta’s Kashmir concert, Islamists and liberals of Kashmir while opposing Zubin Mehta show tried their best not to annoy the west as if it really cares whether Kashmiris are happy or not. Their response has been nuanced, decent, calculated matching the western standards of decency. They did not cite Israeli sympathies of Zubin as a reason to oppose the show. No one said the show and the music is un-Islamic as they used to. Even government recognized Mufti Bashir-u-Din, who would give fatwas on every issue in the world, desisted from doing so. Instead, all toed the line with octogenarian leader Syed Ali Geelani that the show would give wrong impression of Kashmir to the west -- an impression of normalcy! The liberals decided to counter the Zubin show with a parallel music show. It shows the west’s opinion still matters to Kashmiris and its’ liberals and its’ Islamist.

It reflects complete helplessness also. That for 60 years - both Islamists and liberals -have been pleading to the west that Kashmir is political issue not an ideological dispute. They have been seeking their intervention, their support and their sympathies. But they respond with Zubin Mehta shows and that is it. This is the net result of 60 years of our begging to the West. 

The maestro Zubin Mehta wished to have show in Kashmir, Germany said the wish would be fulfilled. That is the reality of the world. 

Zubin show will add to “Kashmir of mind” some more mysticism and mystery. More tourists would come for stay in houseboat and for taking ride in Dal Lake. Normalcy and peace songs would be sung by anchors of TV channels. Perhaps something more would happen. Islamists of Kashmir and liberals of Kashmir would not be the same henceforth.

Perhaps they would not even like to listen to likes of that uptown youth and his argument, who during the peak of militancy pleaded for pro-America slogans.


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